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Posts Tagged ‘Spanish Classes’

With our time in Buenos Aires coming to a close, I’ve been reflecting on some of my favorite things about this city and favorite moments during our time here. We have adjusted to our routine here with such ease that much of what we do hasn’t necessarily seemed Blog-Worthy.

I debated if anyone would want to hear about the afternoons we’ve spent in Parque 3 de Febrero in the Palermo neighborhood, lounging in the grass and laughing at god knows what until our stomachs hurt and I have tears rolling down my cheeks; about our excitement upon finally finding a bookstore filled with english-language books; about our frustration with figuring out the bus system (so comprehensive that there hundreds of separate lines and so complicated that the system is described not with a route map but rather with a whole book) and then the feeling of triumph upon realizing that “holy-shit-we-just-hopped-on-a-random-bus-and-got-ourselves-home-intact;” about sitting in a restaurant until nearly four a.m. talking about our plans, for this trip and after; about renting bikes and riding around the beautiful Coastanera Sur Ecological Reserve and hearing, to our horror, that there had been a fire the following day that burned hundreds of square meters of the reserve; about Adam holding my hand and keeping me calm while my dad had surgery back in St. Louis and about our elation upon hearing that the surgery went well; about my solo visit to the impressive Museo de Arte Latino Americano de Buenos Aires (MALBA), about how odd it felt to navigate the city buses and subway system on my own and to wander the museum alone after spending approximately the previous 2000 hours with Adam at my side; or about how hilarious it was to watch Adam attempt to touch his left elbow to his right knee while playing “Simon Dice” (Simon Says) in Spanish class.

Each of these tiny moments, though individually commonplace and generally pretty ordinary, taken all together, make up my memories of a wonderful month in Buenos Aires. We have just loved our time here, and I hope you’ll forgive the month of slow posting. We’re off to Patagonia soon and will be resuming our busier schedule, so should have plenty of stories of glaciers and trekking and sleeping in dorm rooms and tents. In the meantime, the Flickr page (always accessible through the Photos tab at the top of the page) has been updated with some additional shots from Buenos Aires. Also, Adam will be back tomorrow with a look back at our first three months on the road.

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It’s been a while since we’ve last updated, and there are several reasons for that. Mainly it’s that we’ve just been busy being, well, being not very busy, if that makes any sense at all.

We did so much and moved at such a fast pace for the first 2+ months of our trip that we are just enjoying being in one place, having our own apartment (with our own kitchen!!), that we are just getting back to a kind of normalcy (as much as that is possible being that we’re in a city of 12 million people in December, where the temperature is in the 90’s).

But I digress. We have been in BA for about a week and half. Christmas was a great time, albeit a bit weird, again this whole weather thing is really throwing us off. How can it be Christmas and New Year’s, and we have to have the air conditioner on in our apartment? It just doesn’t seem right.

We did end up having a wonderful little Christmas though, complete with a staggering amount of fireworks when it hit midnight on Christmas Eve, a la the Fourth of July. It was an interesting way to see Christmas celebrated. But we also got a chance to Skype and talk to a lot of our family, which was awesome and made being away for the holidays a bit easier.

We had a great steak dinner at “home” on Christmas Eve, then wandered around the city on Christmas Day, knowing that it would most likely be the least crowded the city would be. It was nice to get to see the city without all the pedestrians, cars, buses, and cabs that normally zip around Buenos Aires on a given day.

We have also been taking Spanish classes for the past week, which have been great and really challenging. We have been going for four hours a day and coming home with our heads spinning from all the new information. It’s a slow process, but the fact that we are hearing only Spanish (our instructors speak Spanish, even when trying to explain things that we are confused about) for those four hours a day is helping us immensely with getting used to the language. It’s been a great experience, and the people at the small school we are going to are great.

first-day-of-school

First Day of School

Tonight, we were lucky enough to be invited to our friend Maru’s parents’ house for New Year’s Eve. Maru is a friend of our good friend Angie, and she is a porteno, or native of Buenos Aires. We’ve hung out with her several times so far, and she has been so gracious and welcoming. When Maru was telling her parents about us and how long we were staying here, her mom insisted on inviting us to their New Year’s Even festivities. It’s a little different here in that most people hang out with their families until late, around 1 or 2am, then the younger people head out with their friends until the wee hours of the morning.

Not sure if we’re in the younger demographic anymore and will be doing that, but we are so very grateful for the invitation to the get-together, and it will be a great experience for us to see how a different culture celebrates the holidays. Not to mention that we’ll get a chance to really use our Spanish as Maru is the only person in her family who speaks English. It should be a great night!!

One more thing to catch everyone up on is our itinerary. Until now, we were working on a very rough itinerary that didn’t have much planned. When we got to BA, we knew we were going to have to start making some decisions because we were heading to Patagonia next, and it’s high season, so things book up in advance. So we have been spending a lot of time researching exactly where we want to go in Patagonia. We are starting to solidify some plans, but nothing is set in stone, yet. We’ll update as soon as we get some things booked.

But we do have some exciting news about our plans for after Patagonia. We had been kicking around several different ideas for after Buenos Aires. First, it was spend a month in Patagonia, then head up to Ecuador and Colombia before heading to SE Asia. Then we cut Ecuador and Colombia because it was just too out of the way. Then we were talking about coming home for a week or so before SE Asia because it would have been cheaper to fly home first than to fly straight from here (for some reason flights from S. America to SE Asia are ridiculously expensive). Then we started kicking around New Zealand. Then Colombia came back into the picture because we have heard absolutely nothing but GREAT things about that country. Seriously, everyone who we have met who has traveled extensively around S. America and been to Colombia has stated Colombia as their favorite place. And people are starting to catch on and realize that it’s not the dangerous drug haven it once was, and it’s going to become a tourist destination sooner rather than later. So by going now, we would be catching Colombia at a special time, and we feel we can’t pass that up.

So after an entire afternoon of checking different carriers and all of our options, we were lucky enough to stumble on a series of flights that will take us to several new destinations that we are really excited about. And we booked our flights yesterday, so the next phase of our trip is starting to come together.

Now we will leave Buenos Aires on January 19th. We will have 42 days in Patagonia, both the Argentine and Chilean side, until we have to be in Santiago, Chile on March 4. From Santiago we will fly to Bogota, Colombia (by way of Miami… how convenient), where we will have a little less than a month in Colombia. I can’t tell you how excited we are of going to Colombia.

Next, we fly from Bogota to LA on April 3rd and 4th, with a one night layover in Miami. Then on April 4th, we fly to Auckland, New Zealand, where we will have a little over a month. New Zealand came into play when we cut Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, thus freeing up some money because of the expense of the Galapagos. We figured that there probably won’t be a time soon when we can spend a month traveling around New Zealand in a spaceship (and what is a spaceship? you may ask, well, check out the website, http://www.spaceships.tv/; it’s our mode of transportation and our “home” for a month in New Zealand).

After New Zealand, it will be off to Bangkok, Thailand, where we just found out my Mom and sister will be joining us for TWO weeks, which is really, really exciting for us.

All of this means that we definitely will not be coming home for a mid-year break, which sucks. But honestly, as much as we would have loved to come home for a week or so, it really would have been difficult to leave again and head back out on the road. And besides, next October will be here soon enough, and then we’ll be there for good.

Sorry for the length of this post, but you know me, I can be a bit long-winded at times, and it’s been a while since we’ve updated.

We both send a Happy New Year’s to everyone back home and anyone else who might be reading this. We love and miss you all, and we will no doubt be thinking of all of you at midnight tonight (8pm your time, so give us a toast around that time if you think of it ;)).

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! And here’s to a healthy, wonderful, and exciting 2009!!!

~Adam

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Our humble abode

Our humble abode

Full Disclosure: I haven’t been able to listen to the song “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” without getting misty eyed.  (OK, full disclosure: I haven’t actually made it all the way through the song, yet. I have to turn it off before the description “misty-eyed” is replaced by “blubbering mess.”)  We knew before we left on this trip that being away for the holiday season was going to be tough.  So we decided that we would choose a place to call home for the holidays–a place we could unpack our bags, get to know the neighborhood, find favorite restaurants, basically just get comfortable.

We have now been in Buenos Aires for three days, and we couldn’t be more excited about our decision. We are staying in a studio apartment in San Telmo, one of the few barrios in the city that still features a significant amount of colonial architecture. This gives the neighborhood a much more old-world feel than many other parts of the city.

Lucky for us, the inside of our apartment doesn’t continue the old-world vibe–it has a full wall of sliding glass doors that open out on to a balcony and another full wall of exposed brick, giving it a modern feel. Even more exciting for us, it has a kitchen! A kitchen that doesn’t have anyone else’s food or dirty dishes in it! A kitchen we don’t have to share with any other backpackers! A full. sized. refrigerator. One that we can put our groceries in and not have to label or hope that someone else doesn’t eat them. This is our new definition of luxury 🙂

Adam, hard at work

Adam, hard at work

Adam is back in his element and we’re having a great time experimenting with the local dishes. Behold, our attempt at empanadas (savory pastries), an Argentinian specialty:

homemade-empanadas-2

Homemade Empanadas

More Empanadas

More Empanadas

I promise we’ve actually done more interesting things than unpack and cook, though.  We had a wonderful day on Saturday with a new friend who was just fantastic–she showed us around the town, we drank entirely too much delicious wine and ate entirely too much delicious food, had lots of laughs and learned some solidly offensive insults in Castellano (Espanol to everyone but the Argentines).  It was a great day and an amazing start to our time in Buenos Aires.

Tomorrow morning we begin Spanish lessons, so hopefully within the next few weeks, we should be able to communicate beyond our recently-acquire ability to say very unkind things about your mom.  🙂

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